Three Collegian alumni told current Collegian staffers stories of success and failure informed by their experience at the student newspaper in a March Zoom roundtable sponsored by the Collegian Alumni Interest Group.

The roundtable focusing on leveraging mentorships and professional networks featured Lee Womer of LinkedIn, Chuck Hall of business coaching firm Bizinuum and Leen Obeidat of tech firm flytedesk. Megan Swift, a Collegian news editor, moderated.

Womer, vice president of business development at LinkedIn, worked on both the news and business sides of the Collegian. He said when he was a reporter, he never had any ideas for stories, so he was always assigned coverage. “And those were pretty boring,” he said. He told current Collegian students he leaned that if he wanted to choose his assignments and his career path he had to be proactive. Otherwise, he risked being assigned boring work.

Hall, CEO of Bizinuum, urged students to try new experiences. He said the Collegian was looking for someone to be trained in desktop publishing when he was there. No one wanted to do it, so he stepped up. As a result, he became a tech guru. Later, in one of his first jobs, he was asked if he wanted to try speechwriting. He agreed and ended up writing for the CEO.

Obeidat, director of business development at flytedesk, said joining the business side of the Collegian was a happy accident for her. She went to what she thought was a meeting of the editorial side, but it was the business group. She said she felt lucky that she joined the business side at that time, when the Collegian was transitioning to become a multimedia organization because she liked the intersection between journalism and tech. The Collegian gave her many opportunities to experiment with that, and she works for a tech company now.

Watch the video here.

Photo is of Leen Obeidat speaking on panel.

Barbara Stack

I started my journalism career at The Daily Collegian, where I covered cops, "radicals and minorities," and served as editorial page editor. After graduation, I worked as a reporter and feature writer for two community papers, The Tribune-Review and the Beaver County Times, before being hired by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I worked for the Post-Gazette for 27 years as a reporter, assistant city editor and editorial page writer. For a decade I covered issues regarding children and families, and a series of stories I wrote, along with a court case I persuaded the Post-Gazette to pursue, led to an order opening to the press and public dependency hearings in Pennsylvania juvenile court. In 2007, I began working as a blog writer for the United Steelworkers Union, composing blogs and op-eds that were published in the name of the union's international president. I am now retired and working as a consultant for The Pittsburgh Foundation's communications department.